Imbolc is for marking this very point in the cycle - it's still winter, still hibernation season, still a phase of rest and dormancy - but - we're starting to feel little hints that spring might also be on her way (on the coast at least, maybe not so much in my native prairies).
Snowdrops, hyacinth, aconite are all just peeking out of the ground. These brave ones, exposing their wee blossoms so vulnerably to the still-winter elements, and potential (likely) storms. The days are starting to slightly perceptibly lengthen. At this time we honor our inner stirrings - the first glimpses of ideas as to what we want to grow and tend in the coming year. We strengthen our holding container, protecting those vulnerable seed ideas until it's time for them to actually sprout. We stop and mark this mid-way point from winter solstice to spring equinox.
This was historically a time for taking inventory of one's winter supplies. One English poem goes: "The provident farmer on Candlemas Day, Hath half of his fires and half of his hay. " I appreciate this reminder to check in, and see how the cold, dark months have been for our inner (and outer) reserves.
Imbolc is the Celtic name for this festival that has many variations through European history. My Roman-Catholic ancestors might have marked this day as a "Purification of the Virgin Mary" festival, marking the 40 day postpartum period ending after the birth of Jesus, and his presentation to the temple. I like this honoring of a 40 day lay-in after the birth of a babe, not so much the notion that she was 'unclean' after birth and needed to go be ritually cleansed. As usual, religion mixes the potent and the unfortunate/repulsive. The procession of candles lit on this day led to the name "Candlemas", a day long held in pagan/heathen folk traditions for reading omens as to the arrival of spring.
As the lyrics of one old English song goes, "If Candlemas be fair and bright, / Come, Winter, have another flight; / If Candlemas bring clouds and rain, / Go, Winter, and come not again." Similarly, an old Scottish rhyme is "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, / There'll be twa (two) winters in the year."
There's tales of different types of animals ending or prolonging their hibernation based on the weather at this time of year. According to one source, it was Germans who concluded that if the sun appeared on Candlemas, a hedgehog would cast a shadow, making for what they called "second winter." And that as those folks immigrated to America and the groundhog was a more common animal, we ended up with Groundhog Day.
Join me on Thursday, February 1st for a small group gathering to honor Imbolc, the first stirrings after the freeze of deep winter. We'll spend some time getting into our bodies, checking on our inner reserves and stirrings with guided embodiment/meditation/journey. We'll dip into myth, poetry and ritual, to vision and honor the seeds of what is to grow in the coming year. And see what the weather holds that day to make predictions of whether Spring is on her way yet or not ;)
I'm so looking forward to gathering with you. Doors at 4:15 pm, and we'll start at 4:30, wrapping up around 6 pm. Wear your most comfy clothes, and bring anything you need to be cozy - small blanket/shawl/scarf, bolster, water and snacks. A journal and pen is also great.
Sliding scale $30-60. Email is best to reserve your spot, or through the form on my Contact page.